Hardcore wrestling fans nationwide probably felt their heart rates quicken this month when the most over wrestler in WWE, Daniel Bryan, playfully called out Shinsuke Nakamura, the most over wrestler in New Japan.
A Daniel Bryan-Shinsuke Nakamura match is the stuff of a wrestling nerd’s dreams — so many running knee strikes! — but it’s just that: a dream.
But in the changing landscape of WWE, as led by Triple H’s direction in NXT, might make the addition of Shinsuke Nakamura to the WWE roster a very real possibility.
We’ve already seen NXT add the former KENTA and Prince Devitt in the past year as Hideo Itami and Finn Balor. The two superstars in Japan made immediate impacts upon their arrival stateside, with Itami even appearing at WrestleMania 31.
Nakamura, on the other hand, has all the elements necessary to bypass NXT and ride the proverbial rocket ship straight to WWE stardom.
Certainly the thought of Nakamura in NXT is appealing. There are ready-made possibilities for feuds, including with the promotion’s current top dog. Just last year, Nakamura wrestled NXT champion, Kevin Owens, in a stellar match for Ring of Honor.
But with well over a decade of wrestling experience, not to much his shoot-fighting background, Shinsuke Nakamura would pretty clearly be the most polished worker in NXT.
Nakamura’s in-ring work is second-to-none, but as any long-time WWE observer can attest, ring work only goes so far in creating a top-tier superstar. For an international wrestler, outstanding grappling can become a crutch with the language and cultural barriers, thus rendering a worker one-dimensional.
Nakamura speaks English, which clears perhaps the highest hurdle in turning an international wrestler into a WWE star. He’s also cultivated a larger-than-life persona that fits with the ethos of American wrestling, and in particular WWE, which is as much spectacle as sport.
His character is one that was finely tuned after years of searching for an identity. Nakamura was somewhat lost in the shuffle early into his promising NJPW career because his stoic, business-persona persona was just too bland.
In becoming the animated King of Strong Style, Nakamura firmly entrenched himself into NJPW’s top tier as one of the company’s aces, along with Hiroshi Tanahashi.
It’s a crown he wears expertly, and one that would work just as effectively in America.
Tell me this entrance wouldn’t generate heat in the WWE.
And, unlike some NXT talents who come up to WWE’s main roster and get lost in the fold because there’s no story line for them, Shinsuke Nakamura is perfect to position with an instant, high-profile feud against Daniel Bryan.
Beyond Bryan’s challenge to Nakamura, Nakamura also holds NJPW’s version of Daniel Bryan’s title: the Intercontinental Championship. For old-school fans who remember Ric Flair’s 1991 debut in WWF as “The Real World Champion,” introducing Nakamura to an American audience as The Real Intercontinental Championship recognizes his illustrious background, while further reestablishing the credibility of what was once WWF’s show-stealing title.